Rod Stewart Refuses to Perform in Saudi Arabia Over Country’s Poor LGBTQ+ Rights Record

Author: Christopher Wiggins

Rod Stewart, the iconic British rocker, has made headlines after he publicly declined an offer to perform in Saudi Arabia, a decision aimed at highlighting what he characterized as the “injustices” prevailing in the country when it comes to queer rights.

In a statement on Instagram Thursday, Stewart said, “I’m grateful I have the choice whether or not to perform in Saudi Arabia. So many citizens there have extremely limited choices – women, the LGBTQ+ community, the press.”

He further explained his aspiration for his decision to shed light on the country’s human rights issues.

He wrote, “I’d like my choice not to go… to shine a light on the injustices there and ignite positive change.”

While the particulars surrounding the invitation—including the identity of the inviter and the financial terms — remain undisclosed, a source close to Stewart informedThe Mirror that the musician was committed to doing the right thing, declining the offer irrespective of the monetary allure. “Some things are more important,” remarked the source, described as a close contact of Stewart by The Mirror.

Earlier, Billboardreported a similar stance by Stewart, marking it as a continuation of the musician’s advocacy through his professional choices. In 2022, due to human rights issues, Stewart turned down a lucrative offer to perform in Qatar ahead of the soccer World Cup hosted by the country.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Stewart previously revealed, “I was actually offered a lot of money, over $1m, to play there 15 months ago. I turned it down,” criticizing Iran for its armament provisions.

This isn’t a solitary instance of artists boycotting performances in the Middle East due to human rights concerns. Nicki Minaj pulled out of a Saudi Arabian music festival in 2019 to support women’s and LGBTQ+ rights.

Stewart’s refusal to perform, echoing similar ethical stances within the entertainment sector, underscores a broader dialogue on the intersection of human rights advocacy and the arts.

Saudi Arabia has been under a global spotlight for its human rights practices, despite efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernize the country’s image through various reforms like opening movie theaters and lifting the ban on women driving.

Yet, as highlighted by the brutal 2018 murder of dissident Saudi Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, critics argue that much remains to be addressed regarding human rights and freedom of the press within the kingdom.
Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins

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